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‘A Revitalization Story’: How Colliers Strategy & Consulting Helped Enable Canada's Largest Co-op Redevelopment Project

Ashley Mar Hero Image
In 1983, the Ashley Mar Housing Co-operative (Ashley Mar) was established to offer non-market housing to families and individuals in Vancouver. Located on 1.5 acres of land at 8495 Cambie Street close to Marine Drive, the co-operative accommodated 54 households for over 35 years. The co-op wanted to revitalize its site for its existing residents and reimagine the property to better serve the needs of its changing community.

Acting as Owner’s Representative, Colliers Strategy & Consulting (Colliers) assisted Ashley Mar with the redevelopment process, working closely with members to revitalize their housing while retaining the intangible elements of the co-op that contributed to a meaningful sense of community over the last three decades. Ashley Mar benefited from owning the land but required a partnership with a developer who could bring forward the equity required to make a project of this scale a reality.

Colliers led a developer procurement process resulting in Intracorp Homes being selected to help bring to life Canada’s largest co-op redevelopment project.

The Colliers team prioritized managing two key project aspects throughout the approvals process. The first was to minimize risks to the co-op in both development and construction. Colliers also helped increase capacity within the co-op to work effectively with Intracorp, which in turn, minimized risks to the development partner.

During this unique and sometimes challenging journey, the priorities of the co-op remained at the forefront of Colliers’ involvement and the decision-making process. As a pivotal redevelopment and the largest project of its kind in Canada, it has delivered a framework that similar organizations looking to expand affordable housing options can explore.

The project received unanimous approval at City Council, and construction is now underway to transform the former Ashley Mar site into a 649-unit multifamily community.

Communication: a key metric to successful redevelopment
The key to success for this redevelopment was clear and collaborative communication between Intracorp and Ashley Mar. Colliers facilitated these conversations to develop a working partnership in planning for this community beyond solely establishing a Purchase and Sales Agreement.

“Collaborating with Colliers and their effort to help shepherd the project forward with the co-op was essential for this project’s success, said Evan Allegretto, President, Intracorp Homes BC. “Colliers helped simplify complex issues so the co-op members could understand and be confident that they were making the best decisions, not only for the co-op today, but for the longevity of the co-op in the future.”

On behalf of Ashley Mar, Colliers acted with the co-op’s best interest in mind during negotiations with Intracorp and the City of Vancouver. A core objective was to ensure its existing members were taken care of during construction and are welcomed back into the new community upon project completion. Several co-op members had lived in the community since the early 1980s; they raised their families there. Others had grown older, and their needs have changed. Drawing on their significant experience designing senior-focused and family-oriented living, Colliers helped Ashley Mar reimagine how members could age in place while ensuring that new members had the right mix of space and amenities to enjoy their community.

Colliers recognized and supported the concerns of the co-op members and those of the developer during the multi-year approval process. Colliers worked with the co-op steering committee, whose primary concern was maintaining membership support. Using a strong engagement strategy that brought all members along in the planning and development process, Colliers helped to achieve nearly 80% approval from the general membership. Assessing the technicalities of redevelopment in an approachable way and with empathy for members was a consistent priority for Colliers.

Design focused on inspiring a sense of community
The design portion of the project was an opportunity for member engagement. Colliers facilitated several design charettes with all members of the co-op around key elements of the building, such as the landscaping, outdoor amenities, and multi-purpose indoor spaces. This design approach minimized risk to the project by earning the support of the members early on, ensuring the building was reflective of the people who would live there.

Ashley Mar’s new building will see several modern amenities, including a fitness studio, indoor and outdoor amenity spaces for children, a rooftop area for adults, and a lending library where members can share tools and equipment, contributing to a sense of renewed community.

Additionally, the new high-rise building design will allow more light into homes, as the previous townhomes were deficient of natural light.

"It was impactful and positive to see people design the spaces they will get to live in,” said Jaraad Marani, Vice President of Development Advisory at Colliers in Vancouver. Marani said working with Ashley Mar models what co-op redevelopments could be.

"Working on this redevelopment project was unique in that we were not just working for an organization or a firm. We were working for specific people, for families, and enabling the revitalization of a community that otherwise might not have happened," said Kristina Louie, Development Manager at Colliers in Vancouver.

An immense collaboration and product of cross-sector teamwork
"Unanimous support of Mayor and Council was a testament to the collaboration among Ashley Mar, Colliers, Intracorp and City of Vancouver,” Marani said.

Colliers has the expertise to work with owners of intensification-ready lands who lack the experience to develop the land themselves. Colliers provides leadership and organizational management to ensure projects move forward successfully.

Upon completion in 2025, the redeveloped Ashley Mar Housing Co-operative site will be the largest co-op redevelopment in Canadian history. This project will contribute positively to solving the housing supply crisis in the region, adding 524 secured market rental homes across two rental towers and 125 co-op units within a 16-storey co-op tower.

Property image credit: Perkins&Will and Intracorp

For More Information, Please Contact:

Jaraad Marani

Vice President, Development Advisory

Vancouver - Rogers Tower

Jaraad leads the Colliers’ Development Advisory business for Western Canada with a team of 12  staff. He is responsible for all aspects of the business including oversight of the 10 redevelopment projects that are currently under approvals or construction.  Jaraad joined Colliers’ Strategy & Consulting Group in 2015. He has previous experience in urban planning, market research, public policy, real estate strategy, construciton & development work and organizational  capacity building. Jaraad has completed rezoning, construction and occupancy  of 7 various  residential, mixed-use, and commercial projects. His most notable projects include management of the redevelopment of the Vancouver Masonic Centre in Vancouver, which now stands as a 16-storey tower with 150 units of residential and 40,000 sf of commercial space, and the redevelopment of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Centre for Cancer Prevention. Jaraad also oversaw the joint venture redevelopment of Ashley Mar Housing Co-operative with Intracorp Homes and Oxford Properties. That completed rezoning will see the creation of 650 units of housing in Vancouver. 

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Kristina Louie

Senior Development Manager

Vancouver - Rogers Tower

Kristina is a Development Manager with Colliers Strategy & Consulting team. She is responsible for supporting a Development Management portfolio that consists of public advisory, commercial redevelopment, condominium development, and purpose-built rental and affordable housing redevelopments throughout British Columbia.

Kristina has previous experience in consulting, construction management, and marketing. Her diverse experience has helped her form an integrated approach to real estate development and the ability to adapt to the needs of any project. Kristina brings strong work ethic and efficient project management to the team. She emphasizes open and proactive communication with clients and stakeholders in her approach to managing developments successfully.

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